Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mac On Mars - PHB Flashback

"In idle moments I like to imagine ways I might get off the planet in the near-future. So far, none of them are especially probable. One idea that continues to tantalize (despite its fatalistic implications) is convincing NASA to send a one-man "experimental" mission to Mars, ostensibly to study the effects of prolonged microgravity and radiation on human physiology.

The subject? Me, of course.

I'm not asking that much, really. Just a modest capsule with life support and a way of navigating the Martian surface, even if it's just an augmented spacesuit and an inflatable tent. Once on Mars, I could continue sending NASA data on my condition, not to mention carry out geological and exobiological investigations. Given the tools and a minimum of scientific training, I figure my efforts could eclipse those of the current Mars Exploration Rovers within weeks. 

The elegance of this mission, from a financial perspective at least, is that I wouldn't necessarily be coming back, sparing mission planners the need for a return vehicle. I'd wander the landscape and keep myself alive and healthy for as long as possible, awaiting eventual relief from a more robust crewed mission. It's quite possible I could "live off the land" indefinitely, giving me enough time to really take in the sights: the soaring slopes of Olympus Mons, the labyrinthine fractures of Valles Marineris, the enigmatic massifs of Cydonia.

Would I miss Earth? Certainly. But probably not enough to conscience coming back until at least a few years of pure, unimpeded exploration; it's not everyday one has an entire planet to oneself.

I hereby volunteer for a one-man "reconnaissance" flight to Mars, fully aware of the risks. How about it, NASA?"

- Mac Tonnies, via PHB post 4/25/06

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